London Design Festival 2015

Here by Thomson & Craighead

Alex Chinneck A Bullet from a Shooting Star

British sculptor Alex Chinneck is renowned for elevating everyday objects and scenarios to surreal monuments, transforming the familiar into the extraordinary. For last year’s Festival, he created A Bullet from a Shooting Star, an outdoor installation at Greenwich Peninsula that is testament to the site’s rich industrial history and acts as a visual beacon signifying the site’s future as a new residential district for London. The enormous lattice of steel took the form of an inverted electricity pylon that appeared to have been shot into the ground at a precarious angle.

“My work is a combination of surrealism and spectacle,” he said. “In this case, the spectacle is provided by the sheer scale of the sculpture and the physical feat of balancing it on its tip.” The site-specific installation played with the industrial language of the peninsula, which was once home to the largest oil and gas works in Europe and a steelworks. The work’s construction and materiality reflected that of the historical structures still on site, particularly that of the now-abandoned gas tower.

“I was inspired by the incredible history of industry and power generation on the site,” enthused the artist on Greenwich Peninsula’s past. “There are a number of architectural relics that remain from that time, and that aesthetic along with the historical narrative led me to electricity pylons.”

The impressive 35 metre-high structure was visible from a multitude of viewpoints on and surrounding the peninsula, including North Greenwich Station, the Emirates Airline cable car, the Thames Clipper service, Canary Wharf, and all planes that fly to and from City Airport. “Given the site and various points of view to it, there was a fantastic opportunity and a creative pressure to deliver a real cultural and sculptural beacon,” says Chinneck. The work’s dramatic silhouette, which was illuminated at night, created a prominent landmark, attracting attention to the area and its future. During the day, the work casted an intricate maze of dynamic shadows across the surrounding roads and footpaths, engaging visitors walking beneath.

“Greenwich is the centre of world time, and I’m interested in the idea that the sculpture intersects the prime meridian line, acting as a giant sundial,” said the artist.

A Bullet from a Shooting Star comprised 450 pieces of steel and 900 engineered connection points, all constructed from a combined length of 1186 metres of steel weighing 15 tons. The project was a marvellous feat of engineering made possible in partnership with specialist fabricators and engineers.

“The work takes a complex path to reach a dramatic conclusion,” said Chinneck. “For the London Design Festival I wanted to take on my biggest challenge to date – one that could only be realised through collaborative design and problem solving.”

‘Co-ordinates’ exhibited London differently in an exhibition of original limited edition maps by some of the city’s preeminent design studios and artists. Dn&Co put the show together, exhibiting 24 colour A1 prints mapping London. Designs were sold as limited edition screen prints raising money for homeless charity Streets of London.

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